How Will Self-Driving Cars Cope with Bikes and Limited Road Space?
【Summary】Bikes have been around since 1817 and is considered to be one of the foundational technologies that utilizes mechanical gears. One of the major drawbacks with riding bikes is sharing public roads with aggressive drivers and large trucks.
In cities with reliable road infrastructure and green energy laws, cycling is the preferred mode of transportation. With over 645,000 journeys daily in 2014, London is a prime example of an urban location that acknowledges bike-riding as a salient medium for traveling. The government has built multiple cycling routes around the city, which encourages locals to pedal to their destination, instead of taking a car.
Bikes have been around since 1817 and is considered to be one of the foundational technologies that utilizes mechanical gears. It's astonishing that bicycles are still being used prolifically today, in a world filled with different choices of transportation. One of the major drawbacks with riding bikes is sharing public roads with aggressive drivers and large trucks.
Read on to understand how the introduction of autonomous vehicles will transform bike-riding communities worldwide.
Safer, Open Roads
Analysts have pointed out that self-driving cars will help reduce human error associated with car accidents. As a result, cyclists will be able travel with more confidence. John Parkin, professor of transport engineering at the University of the West of England, expects bikes and driverless cars to share the road in ways that are currently unfathomable. At the moment, cars are segregated from bikes on open roads. City planners will likely reduce separation between the two lanes in the future, by removing dividers and obstructions that discourage reckless drivers from dominating both pathways.
Andrew Gilligan, a British journalist and radio presenter, asserts that the only way to cater to both transportation mediums in the future is to allocate more space for bikes. But Gilligan warns that people may not be open to such changes, "Even now, taking out one of four [vehicle] lanes on Victoria Embankment [to be turned into a cycle lane] was treated as if the world had fallen in. Nigel Lawson, former chancellor of the exchequer suggested in a speech that this was the most damaging thing to happen to London since the Blitz."
Less Cars on the Road?
Gilligan's views on space allocation on public roads may not actually contribute to congestion and traffic. This is because many carmakers foresee less people owning cars, especially in large cities. During AutoMobility LA 2016, BMW (through its car-sharing service, ReachNow) provided a glimpse of the future of car ownership. The leading auto manufacturer explained that ride-sharing and car-sharing programs are facilitating the transition from traditional private ownership to hybrid ownership, wherein owners use their vehicle as a way to earn income on the side to help ease monthly payments. In the hybrid ownership model, cars will participate in ride-sharing or car-sharing when they are not being used by the owner. Technically, this would be possible when autonomous driving becomes the norm.
For cyclists, this would be extremely beneficial. The rise of hybrid and zero car ownership translates to less cars on the road, allowing more space for other transportation vessels, such as bikes, electric scooters and skateboards.
"The big unknown is how cyclists will cope with having to share the roads with robotic vehicles," highlighted George Greenwood from Financial Times.
Michael Cheng is a legal editor and technical writer with publications for Blackberry ISHN Magazine Houzz and Payment Week. He specializes in technology business and digesting hard data. Outside of work Michael likes to train for marathons spend time with his daughter and explore new places.
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